NEWS AND ISSUES


Testimony of State Senator Thomas K. Duane The New York City Planning Commission (CPC) Scoping Hearing for the Redevelopment of the Former Con Edison Power Plant Sites

March 28, 2006

I am New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the proposed development of the former Con Edison Waterside properties located along First Avenue between 35th and 41st Streets. I represent the area just to the south, including Waterside Plaza and Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town, and the part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Drive bordering the sites. In addition to the effect that the development will have on the community immediately around the sites, I believe the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that the CPC will undertake should also consider how the surrounding neighborhoods will be affected. I urge the CPC to consider that this development is an opportunity to greatly enhance the community, the surrounding neighborhoods and New York City as a whole.

Manhattan Community Board 6 has already put together a thorough 197a Plan which outlines the most suitable ways to address the areafs needs. Conversely, the proposed plan by East River Realty would be hugely incompatible with the neighborhood. Luxury housing and office towers would be out of character with the quiet, residential character of the neighborhood. The area currently has few parks, is in need of retail along First Avenue and has if not the least, almost the least amount of open space than any other area in the City. The former Con Ed sites should not be developed only for private use. The community also needs affordable housing, parks, a facility that would benefit the community such as a new school and retail that would serve the residents of the entire neighborhood.

I also encourage the CPC to work closely with the State as it plans to reconfigure the FDR Drive so that public access to the riverfront is provided. I hope that the CPC will continue its pattern of providing for the appropriate mechanism for developing waterfronts, as it has in large part accomplished in the West Village, Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

The impact that this development will have on the entire East Side must be taken into account during the EIS. For example, increased traffic will affect the air quality and amount of noise in the area. In addition, the bulkiness of the development and an increase in population will affect the quality of life for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The proposed development plan does not currently acknowledge the communityfs needs. I encourage the CPC to consider and incorporate as much of Community Board 6fs alternative plan as possible, as it provides for primarily residential use, public open space, affordable housing and community facilities in a density that is in scale with the neighborhood and that will serve to strengthen the East Side and our City.

Finally, I urge the Commission members and staff to give great weight to the comments made my the elected officials, including myself, in our letter to Robert Dobruskin, the Director of Environmental Assessment and Review Division of the Department of City Planning. Thank you again for the opportunity to present testimony today.


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